Murphy's Law

Tom Murphy

Archive for March 2008

Preparing for Media Interviews

Damien Mulley has published his tips for successful media interviews.


The most important thing about any interview is that you are prepared for it. If you put out a press release then you should already know your topic inside out. You should be expecting and be prepared for interviews well before the send button is pressed on that press release.


One thing I’d add to his list, is passion. You cannot replicate passion about the subject matter – it’s infectious.

Written by Tom Murphy

March 26, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Posted in General

Bad PR practice isn't about new media training…

From a blog relations perspective there’s a very interesting discussion taking place around a bloggers event that was organized by Johnson & Johnson (and their PR firm).

For the sake of brevity you can read Susan Getgood’s post for more detail here.

In effect, the event was for "mommy bloggers"* and two attendees, Julie Marsh and Stefania Pomponi Butler, had their invitations revoked for pretty spurious reasons – one because she could only attend part of the event, and one because she had to bring her nine week old son.

Not very clever.

I should point out that according to Susan’s post, J&J are open to getting the feedback and will learn from the experience.

Jeremy Pepper also wrote a post using this issue as the catalyst on how agencies need to train their staff or face the consequences.

He makes a lot of sense.  PR people need to wake up and understand that if they wish to help their clients participate, and communicate online, then they need a better grasp of how it works.

I have to say in defence of our profession (and I use the term advisedly 🙂 ) I’ve seen a lot of interest and commitment from PR practitioners in learning more about how online communication is changing. 

There’s a lot of people who recognize the need for a new approach.

But let’s talk turkey.

Traditional PR practice isn’t exactly a beacon of professional excellence is it? If you take traditional media relations as the lowest common denominator, journalists still receive irrelevant pitches, with no strong news or story element.

Why would we expect the online world to be any different?

If you have a blog you’ll get the opportunity to see the other side of the fence. Yes there are people who take the time and target you with a story, but the vast majority is pure spam and not even entertaining spam at that. {Furthermore if they’re pitching me, they obviously haven’t researched which blogs are read by more than a couple a people a month!]

The beauty of the online world is that bloggers call people out on poor pitches. Rather than "throw the release in the trash" they blog about silly people making silly pitches. [You even have an online blog you can use to point the finger at bad practice].

The reality is that the bar to "doing" Public Relations is sufficiently low that "everyone" can attempt it.

Furthermore, you have junior staff now undertaking the modern equivalent of what many of us had to do in the days before the Internet:


"Hello, Ms. Journalist did you get the release?.. would you like a photo…."


PR firms serious about helping their clients online, need to get their act together.

There is a huge learning opportunity from the hundreds of PR blogs already online.

There are online events like this and this as well as thousands of "Web 2.0" events in every city, country and continent.

But this isn’t just about training.  This is about a clear commitment to understanding online communications, understanding the tools, the channels, and most importantly of all understanding how to participate as a full value member rather than a flack.

It’s pretty easy to spot the difference.


Regarding the J&J issue, at least they have gone through the exercise of understanding that the online audience is important. Some elements of the execution was less than stellar but they’re open to learning.  No one has all the answers.


Just an overall observation and not one specific to this post.  Bloggers are inclined to pull the trigger and examine the corpse afterwards.  Sometimes contemplation, perspective, and deep breathing are useful tools.

*I think this is the correct term 🙂

Written by Tom Murphy

March 26, 2008 at 7:56 am

Posted in General

6 years blogging… no parole yet..

The last couple of years may have been a struggle, but I am delighted that today my meagre blogging efforts on the world of Public Relations have been polluting the Internet for exactly 6 years.

[To put that in context statistically, if you were a "wife" convicted of killing your spouse in a large urban area in the US, you’d be free now 🙂 ]


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Written by Tom Murphy

March 25, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Posted in General

No one is a twit…

As someone who has been dipping their (lurking) toe into Twitter recently (and to extend the metaphor needlessly: pulling it out rather regularly), I’ve been interested to read some opinions on this, our latest source of information overload…

Allan Jenkins points to a very interesting story on Ragan: "How to use Twitter (and whether to bother)" [There’s an interesting video vignette from Shel Holtz as a sidebar to the article as well as a lot of commentary at the end of the post]

Allan also provides some of his own thoughts on using Twitter.


PS: If you are kicking Twitter’s tyres you might also be interested in Darren Rowse’s post: "How I Use Twitter to Promote my Blog".

PPS: TechCrunch has called out an interesting new Twitter service: Quotably. Quotably turns the Twitter stream into a threaded conversation. [Disclosure I haven’t had time to test it, but for an old fart like me it sounds like a great idea 🙂 .]

Written by Tom Murphy

March 25, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Posted in General

The State of Blog Relations

This mightn’t be news to you, but it was news to me.

APCO Worldwide has been working on a project for the US Council of PR Firms to understand the perspectives of PR firms and bloggers.

The findings make interesting reading.

The finding below in particular amazed me.

25% of bloggers surveyed agreed with the statement: “Our firm (sic) does a good job identifying the specific interests of individual bloggers and sending them relevant information.”

Wow! That’s not my experience….

Have a read of the study.

I found the report via Susan Getgood’s post: "PR People: Do your homework before you reach out to bloggers".

Also a recommended read…


UPDATE: I tell you this Interweb is fantastic.  No sooner had I pushed the publish button, than Paull Young was in touch to point me to Robert French’s take on the survey…


Well, to me this story is a placement for a bit of publicity … and a sad one, at that. Come on, APCO and CPRF … what were you thinking? It is one thing to be transparent … another to be able to see right through you!

Is this really what you folks call survey research? You really want to hang your hat on this? If so, we’re all in deep trouble. The About page tells more, yet raises more questions than it provides answers.

The report is still interesting reading, just don’t build your business plan on it! 🙂


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Written by Tom Murphy

March 25, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Posted in General

We still seem to love the illusion of control…

Scanning my RSS feeds today, I came across a story titled: "CSR Pioneer of the Year: Communicator".

Now given I have a dual interest in PR and CSR I clicked on the link only to find:


I’d like to read about Dr. Oberkofler’s achievements, but I need another log-in like a hole in the head.


Written by Tom Murphy

March 25, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Posted in General

Nostalgia and knowledge…

I’m a sucker for archives.

There’s something about learning about the past that really interests me.

Two posts caught my eye today:

  • Philip Young points to a fantastic documentary on journalistm you can find on YouTube. It looks like the 1950s. [If you’re interested in gender equality 5:19 will probably make your toes curl]


  • Eric Eggertson points to a letter written by  Bill Bernbach to his colleagues in the Ad agency business, sixty years ago.  It’s funny how the environment might change but the challenges don’t…

Written by Tom Murphy

March 25, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Posted in General


Disclaimer: This is Tom Murphy’s personal weblog.  The opinions I express on this blog and the associated web pages represent my own personal views and not those of my current, prior or future employers.

  • Murphy’s Law is my blog about Public Relations and technology.
  • PR Opinions, is an archive of all my PR posts from March 2002 to August 2006.
  •, is the general home page and includes an eclectic mix of technology, family and stuff – not for the faint hearted.

Comments on any of these blogs are moderated. Any comments I deem inappropriate for this blog will be not be posted – I will however flag that decision with the person who submitted the post.

Comments on the PR Opinions blog are closed.

My name is Tom Murphy and I live and work in Dublin, Ireland where I look after PR and Corporate Social Responsibility for Microsoft Ireland. I’ve been working in PR around Europe and North America for the past fifteen years or so.

You may notice a category on the blog called “He would say that” – anything that falls in that category may cover a Microsoft product or service – that’s my formal disclosure category!

I’m married to the long-suffering Sorcha and we have the world’s best son, Cillian.  When I’m not working or spending time with the family you can find me out in the garden cleaning up after a Golden Retriever that sometimes answers to the name: Holly.

If you want to get in contact:

E-mail: tpemurphy -AT-

Mobile: +353-87-121-55-56

MSN IM: tpemurphy -AT-

Written by Tom Murphy

March 25, 2008 at 9:21 am

Posted in General

RSS catch up… very miscellaneous

I’ve been trying to catch up on loads of orphaned RSS feeds and stuff I filed to read later and most of it I’ve just deleted but some things I did enjoy…

  • You can’t beat common sense.  It’s a commodity often in short supply, but I really like this video post from Shel Holtz on how to blog in a regulated environment.


  • One of the downsides of tardy RSS management is that often you miss little gems.  Kami points to a blog called NakedPR by Jennifer Mattern which takes a pretty… how do I put this.. pragmatic look at PR and especially online PR. There’s some really interesting opinions but unfortunately it looks like Jennifer is calling it a day. [On the plus side Bill Sledzik looks worth a read]


  • Marshall Kirkpatrick’s post on identifying the top blogs in a niche is also worth a read, it’s the first question people have.  "How do I find these people?" Of course I also recommend that people get off their backside and go talk to their audience….


  • If like me you’re struggling with your day job and haven’t quite got around to mobilizing social networking for your campaign yet, then Todd Defren’s post on Social Networking is recommended. It’ll definitely get you thinking.

Written by Tom Murphy

March 20, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Posted in General

Those pesky kids

I attended my 20 year school reunion last week. A really fantastic night meeting a lot of people I hadn’t seen over the intervening period and whom, bar more weight and less hair, had not changed in the intervening period.

Late in the evening I was talking to a young man attending the event and he asked me what year I had left the school.  I replied and he asked me if I wanted to be depressed. Due to the effects of alchohol I nodded and he told me that that was the year he was born and that this was his second year at the reunion. 


This getting older stuff is hard.

I also gave a talk to a group of Masters students this week. 

It was very interesting.  They all view social networking (and their pages) as something they use a lot right now, but also something that’s transient.  They don’t see their pages on these sites as something they’ll always have. They believe they’ll move on.

I was talking to the group about the concept of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. 

Interestingly they don’t see themselves as digital natives, but believe that the next wave of new students, just coming to college now, will be.

My favourite Digital Native cartoon – from the Cincinnati Enquirer, courtesy of Kevin Dugan


Of course the students of today are the mainstream audience of tomorrow, so understanding how they share, find, and use information is important to anyone interested in communicating with them.

The University of Melbourne has published a paper titled: "First year students’ experience with technology: Are they really digital natives?" . It’s an interesting look at the changes in how students are using all types of technology. 

Expect more changes.

Written by Tom Murphy

March 14, 2008 at 8:04 am

Posted in General